Jaguars in the USA

Endangered jaguars to receive critical habitat protection and plan for recovery of U.S. population January 2010. In a far-reaching reversal of Bush administration policy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have announced that it will designate critical habitat for endangered jaguars in the United States and develop a jaguar recovery plan.

Return of the Jaguar? – Smithsonian Magazine

Novel camera traps have documented the elusive cat in Arizona, suggesting it may not be gone from the United States after all. The paw print, judging from the size of it, was left by a large cat just a day or two earlier. Emil McCain kneels over it in the sandy bottom of an Arizona canyon a mile from the U.S.-Mexico border. “This isn’t a mountain lion track,” McCain says, shaking his head after measuring and then tracing it onto a piece of plexiglass.

Rare jaguar sightings have sparked a debate about how to ensure the cats’ survival in the American West

The jaguar is not supposed to be here. Not in the United States. Not in 2007. And certainly not in the desert thorn scrub that wildlife biologists said was too harsh and too dry to contain enough prey for a jaguar to live on. But here he is nonetheless, his golden hide adorned with large black rosettes and his muscular, feline form unmistakable in the images captured by McCain’s camera.

Jaguars on Wikipedia

The inclusion of the United States in the list is based on occasional sightings in the southwest, particularly in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In the early 1900s, the jaguar’s range extended as far north as the Grand Canyon, and as far west as Southern California. The jaguar is a protected species in the United States under the Endangered Species Act, which has stopped the shooting of the animal for its pelt. In 2004, wildlife officials in Arizona photographed and documented jaguars in the southern part of the state. For any permanent population to thrive, protection from killing, an adequate prey base, and connectivity with Mexican populations are essential.[51] On February 25, 2009 a 118 lb Jaguar was caught, radio-collared and released in an area southwest of Tucson, Arizona; this is farther north than had previously been expected and represents a sign that there may be a permanent breeding population of Jaguars within southern Arizona. It was later confirmed that the animal is indeed the same male individual (known as ‘Macho B’) that was photographed in 2004 and is now the oldest known Jaguar in the wild (approximately 15 years old.) On Monday March 2, 2009, Macho B, which is the only jaguar spotted in the U.S. in more than a decade, was recaptured and euthanized after he was found to be suffering from kidney failure.

Completion of the United States–Mexico barrier as currently proposed will reduce the viability of any population currently residing in the United States, by reducing gene flow with Mexican populations, and prevent any further northward expansion for the species.

The historic range of the species included much of the southern half of the United States, and in the south extended much farther to cover most of the South American continent. In total, its northern range has receded 1000 kilometers southward and its southern range 2000 km northward. Ice age fossils of the jaguar, dated between 40,000 and 11,500 years ago, have been discovered in the United States, including some at an important site as far north as Missouri. Fossil evidence shows jaguars of up to 190 kg (420 lb), much larger than the contemporary average for the animal


Primary jaguar habitats include tropical rain forests and swampy grasslands of Central and South America.  In damp forest habitats, jaguars roam close to rivers, streams and lakes.  They are fond of water and are notable as felines who enjoy swimming.

Their distribution ranges from the southwestern United States to south central Argentina.  Cattle ranchers in southern Arizona have reported seeing jaguars as recently as 2004.  These rare sightings of juvenile males probably coming from a Mexican population near the headwaters of the Rio Yaqui in east-central Sonora, about 130 miles south of the border, are not believed to be part of a resident population in Arizona but transients from established groups in northern Mexico.

The greatest threat to the survival of jaguars in the United States comes not from land-use questions but from the border itself.  In the wake of 9/11 and a growing immigration problem, congressional representatives and federal agencies alike have proposed walls, light corridors, and roads along the U.S.-Mexico border, which, if carried out, would stop the movement of jaguars and other wildlife.

The return of Jaguars to the USA An adult male jaguar was photographed in Arizona with a trail camera about 6.5 km north of the Mexican border. On 7 August 2003, the same jaguar was photographed again 6 km further north in the same mountain range.

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